Monday, January 20, 2014

Cutting Librarians From Allentown Schools is Undemocratic

Back in 2011 I wrote about the Allentown School District's short sighted decision to cut school librarians to balance the budget. Click here to read the post. Since then, even more librarians have been slashed, and currently there is only 1 librarian to serve 15 elementary schools, and the district has eliminated two of the four middle school librarians. The two remaining are teaching six classes a day, three at two different middle schools. They are not able to do their regular librarian duties as they are teaching full time. My son's school no longer has a book fair or before/after school library. When I spoke with my son's librarian at Trexler Middle School, she said that her role is very different this year. While her title is that of 'librarian', she is actually a full-time related arts teacher and her schedule does not allow time to work in the library.

Allentown SD is an 89% low SES/high poverty district where access to books is important to offset the impact of poverty on learning. Independent reading greatly improves literacy. These deep cuts will not heal, and our children only get this one chance at an education. They must be given opportunities to choose books at school, right now.

How can schools prepare children to be informed and engaged citizens in a democracy without access to books at school?  It's undemocratic and immoral to cut librarians in schools that serve poor children, while schools that serve more affluent children employ full time librarians. Library funding should be increased, not decreased, in Allentown SD, where it is needed the most. My 7th grade son has taken out one book this entire school year. And it is unfair that our children will be denied a Book Fair this year.  The Book Fair is a fun family/school event that children look forward to all year. Children should never suffer because of budget cuts and bad decisions by school board.

At a recent Trexler Middle School PTA meeting, parents expressed their concerns about the library.  I encouraged parents to attend school board meetings and to speak up. Parents must demand reinstatement of certified librarians. Any state funding must be used to bring back librarians. Legislators must hear from parents. Every building should have a full time librarian. The library is the HEART of the school, it should never be closed! There will be no "renaissance" in Allentown without fully funded and fully staffed school libraries!